Grandmother loved to tell tales of a faraway place called Earth. She says she grew up there a few hundred
years ago and saw its end but mother says not to believe her. Earth sounds amazing but Grandmother loves to tell
how corrupt it was and how the humans ruined it with their greed.
There were three goddesses, they were sisters and best friends but the humans didn’t even acknowledge
their importance. They were the creators of each other and humanity. Earth held the humans, and Sun and Moon
would protect her. When Sun slept and the humans longed for light, Moon would shine and on a clear night cast
away any shadows haunting them. While Moon slept, Sun bathed the humans in her love and affection. It was
when the humans began to destroy their beloved younger sister that Sun and Moon decided to cast them out. They
caused natural disasters and wiped out entire families in mere hours, but it wasn’t enough. All of the humans
needed to go.
At this point Grandmother would get a really wistful look upon her face and she would continue the story as
if in a daze. The people left that could afford it or had useful skills and bribed their way aboard the airship. They
came to space. Of course humans weren’t meant for space and Sun and Moon were furious that they had tried to
live and would let their sister die. Sun sent out a powerful beam of light and the humans passed out. When they
awoke they were in a nebula far, far away. Sun, Moon and Earth had turned their backs on them. They were to die
in the cold, inky, unforgiving blackness of space. They weren’t meant to survive, but they did.
“Sir, the time is now six am,” a robotic voice says, cutting roughly through his dream. He jumps up quickly in
alarm and notes the hazy purple light that manages to get through his filter every morning.
“Why didn’t you wake me up at five like I told you to?” he shouts, peeling off his metallic sleep suit with
built in heaters that one of his exes had gotten him for his 10th lunar cycle. Back then it had been almost
impossible to get without stealing or dying, the latter of which no one did anymore but those unlucky enough to
live in the 9th quarter. And when you lived in the 9th quarter, no one cared about you anyway.
“You enacted my snooze clause, sir,” the robot responds, emotionless as ever, but the man swears he can
hear sass in its response. The man barely listens as he rushes onto the conveyor belt which will bathe, shave and
dress him all the while muttering about “stupid, broken, useless fuckin’ robots.” He steps off of the conveyor belt
and takes one step to the left where he holds his hands out for his keys, wallet and pass card. When nothing
comes, he glances around before beginning another tirade.
Finally he spots the keys on the table in the kitchen where he must’ve dropped them after getting home last
night. Snatching up the keys he runs outside just in time to miss the shuttle bus. Why does everything bad in the
world have to happen to him? He was a good person, wasn’t he? Cursing his poor luck, the man decides to take the
The tubes are translucent cylinders barely wider than the man. They travel deeply into the asteroid, moving
so fast that all the man can make out is the oozing gray slime that the city is built on. Knowing that there were less
than 14 accidents last term does nothing to soothe him once he’s in the tubes. If there is even the slightest
weakness in the tubes, the man knows he’ll never make it back to the surface, alive or dead. His crippling
claustrophobia usually keeps him far, far away from the tubes but he cannot afford to be late for the sixty-fifth
time this term or he would surely be fired.
He suddenly regrets spending money on a new travel suit instead of continuing to save up for a transporter,
but he couldn’t exactly pick up girls in last cycles suits. When he is finally shot out of the Tubes he looks a little
green around the gills but is nevertheless on time for work.
“Junior officer 323379, you have a call on line 23!” a sharp, no nonsense voice barks over the
communicator in his ear. He barely holds back a wince before tapping the piece to accept the call and cut off the
voice before it can repeat its message.
“Hey, babe! Are we still on for space walking tonight?” a girl asks. He doesn’t remember her face or name.
He vaguely remembers promising to take someone to the new spacewalking attraction, someone with perky tits
and legs that went on for zurons. They had added crater bumper cars and asteroid hopping but the promise had
mainly been to get her out of his apartment the following morning. He hates the clingy ones, and now it seemed
that one of them had gotten his work number.
Dear Goddess, he was screwed.
“Hey… sweetie. Um, why are you calling me at work?”
“Oh,” she says, clearly not expecting that question and noting his hesitation. “Well when I left your place
last week I forgot to leave my number, or get yours, but I noticed your work pass card when I was leaving, so…”
She trails off as the rest of the story becomes obvious. She is beginning to rethink her decision to call him—and, in
the process, sounding so desperate.
“Well, I’ve got your number now so I’ll call you when I’m off work, OK?” he lies, desperately trying anything
to get her off of the phone. The phone operator rarely bothered to log personal call numbers and on the off chance
that he did you had to bribe him with six thousand Radons just to get him to speak with you. He can hear the
communicator beeping with the amount of calls he has waiting on the other lines from actual customers. All he
hears is a meek “okay” before the girl disconnects and he’s left to frantically respond to calls for the remainder of
As he is leaving he hears his floor manager call out to him, “Hey, 323379, wait up a second.”
This is it, he knows for sure that he’s going to be fired. The man had been looking for a way to get rid of
him ever since he had found out that 323379 had slept with his wife. 323379 had known that the woman was
married of course, he just hadn’t known that her husband was his floor manager, not that it would have made any
difference. If he couldn’t satisfy his wife then 323379 had no trouble stepping in and filling his place. The floor
manager did not share this view. After his sister had groveled on his behalf to her husband to get 323379 this job
she was not going to be happy that he was losing it.
“I actually really have to go. My sister’s waiting for me, family dinner and all that.” He shrugs as if there’s
nothing you can do about familial obligations.
“I’m sure she won’t mind you being late a few minutes. You seem to have no problem being late to work
323379 gives a sharp jerk of his head in acquiescence ignoring the green flush heating up the back of his
“Due to your unprofessional behavior I regret to inform you that you no longer work here,” he says, though
his smirk shows that he is anything but pleased.
“I don’t know what to say. I thought I was performing well this term.”
“Your work performance has been hindered by continual lateness and the taking of personal calls. If you are
not doing your best then you are not doing well at all. You have an hour to clear out your belongings. Leave your
pass card on the desk before you leave out. As of today you are no longer an employee and thus no longer
welcome on our grounds,” he says with an air of finality before walking off with a bounce in his step.
“I really can’t stay—”
“Either you take your stuff now or you lose it to the garbage collectors, your choice, 323379,” he says, not
even stopping or turning around.
Later that night as 323379 is walking home with an aluminum box full of his things, he wonders what had
possessed the girl to call him in the first place. Yeah, they had hung out before, but he was always the one to call
her and plan when they were going to meet. He called her when he needed her, didn’t she get that? That stupid girl
had cost him his job and for what, a date? He thought he had made it clear that she should just follow his lead.
It takes him what seems like five zurons just to get home when in reality it’s just over a cerium. Once he
gets inside he promptly drops the box and heads to his bed. He’ll deal with everything in the morning.
The next day’s wake up is just as unpleasant as yesterday’s. 323379 wakes up to a hologram of his sister’s
angry purple face projected above his bed screaming profanities. She had even managed to hack his system so that
he couldn’t mute her or cut the projection. He tries futilely to ignore her but she just increases in volume until he
is forced to acknowledge her presence.
“Yes?” he drawls in a bored tone.
“Why weren’t you at dinner last night?” she says and he notices that she had pinned her bangs back to
reveal her third eye which didn’t bode well for him. She only pinned her bangs up when she was going to have it
out with someone and didn’t want to constantly brush hair out of her face in what she believed to be a childish tic.
“There was a situation at work which required my attention,” he evades.
“Don’t tell me you were fired again,” she says snidely. His silence causes her to glare at him. “How could
you get fired when your sister is married to the owner?”
“It just wasn’t in my best interest to stay there.”
“Well how else do you plan on living in Epsilon Eridani without a job? It’s not free you know.” 323379 rolls
his eyes at her scolding. “Well, obviously.”
“Well, you’re coming over tonight. We rescheduled dinner and afterwards we can help you look for a job,”
she says primly, the wind taken out of her sails now that she has been provided with a reasonable excuse for her
brother missing dinner. He nothing but nods his head in accordance to her plan. When she finally allows him to go
back to bed his body has already fully woken up and he is unable to fall asleep.
When he arrives at his sister’s and her husband’s home, the street patrols have already begun. They only
looked for people trying to avoid returning to the 9th cycle and he looked nothing like those people, thank
Goddess, so he arrived at his sister’s home unscathed. Their robot allows him entrance and strips off his shoes,
hat and jacket before leading him into their Sun Room. It was a true sign of their wealth since most people couldn’t
afford to have windows built and then the added protection against the sun’s harmful rays. He sighs and prepares
himself for the barrage of wealth that will be thrown in his face. He could be rich if it weren’t for the floor
manager. If it hadn’t for the floor managers petty grudge, 323379 probably could have been the floor manager. His
blue [NW1] skin darkens with an angry flush. He did not need to be here with his sister flaunting her happiness
while he was jobless in one of the more expensive star systems. He lets out another sigh before pasting on a fake
grin and stepping into their line of sight.
It’s halfway through dinner and the man is frustrated. His sister is regaling them with tales of their crazy
grandmother as if he hadn’t heard them from the women herself a hundred times over. Her husband might enjoy
them but all it did was remind him of days spent inside a ram-shackled hut that had dust coating every surface,
including their grandmother it sometimes seemed. His sister was currently retelling her favorite tale of how they
came to be space dwellers. It was nothing more than a fairy tale that a crazy old woman told to occupy her rowdy
grandchildren but his sister never let go of her beliefs in Grandmother’s stories. She recounted how the Sun,
Moon and Earth Goddesses cast the humans out and it was boring the man. Finally he got up and announced his
intention to leave.
He loves his sister but she can go on and on at times. Doesn’t she realize that people have other things to
do than to listen to her talk? It seemed endless and she still wanted him to stay to look for a job. He’d rather be
homeless. Without another word being said the man steps out of his sister’s house and heads out to find the
nearest bar. A night of alcohol and sex should cheer him up.